What's In A Word? - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1835910

What’s In A Word?

One word can be worth 1,000 pictures, especially when omitted by The Press.

“Concern for Independent Living,” the official name of the organization pushing 60-unit “workforce” housing on County Road 39, dropped “Independent” from its name when it was exposed that “Independent” wasn’t merely descriptive but defined established standards of eligibility for housing in line with assisted living. The picture that suggested was at odds with busy workers jogging to local jobs. Now, for local consumption, they became “Concern, Southampton” — and The Press (and the town), absent curiosity, simply reprints it.

When a letter appeared [“Road Is Capped Out,” Letters, November 11] questioning this highly contested development, stating: “It is my understanding that 1,600 applicants are pending … how many [are] locals?” The Press weighed in by giving the last word, in a rare show of editorial largesse, to the promoter: “There is currently no waiting list for the project, and the state may eventually permit the firm to use the town’s affordable housing waiting list.”

How and when is that determined? Is it a mirage, or should I now excise the picture in my mind of the stacks of pro-forma declarations of “clients” on waiting lists from hundreds of rehabilitative, not-for-profit, “ready-to-go” applicants, stacked in haphazard files, that I counted? Rough count is about 1,600, with 16 percent or less veterans.

But this is not the picture that Concern for Independent Living wants you to see. And so they cloud the lens and skew their words.

As does Curtis Highsmith Jr., who paints a picture of “people looking to move back to the area they were forced to move from because of the lack of affordable residential units.” All those landscapers lived here before and were deported to mid-island? Where will the mythical “workforce” park those very real, block-long trucks and heavy equipment? Picture that exiting onto County Road 39 and racing along residential streets to Hill Street.

And to underscore “local,” Highsmith dismisses the “idea” of people applying from around the country to live in local affordable housing (in the Hamptons). This is, as he says, “not supportable by any factual data.” Please provide that factual data.

The issue is the manipulation of the words “local” and “workforce,” meant to evoke intentionally deceptive images. And to ease entitlement. Truth is, people “from around the country” cannot be excluded or passed over for “locals” when government money is involved. It’s the law.

What’s in a word? Plenty. Plenty of real “factual data” (sic) exists, too. No need to rely on the “experience,” vocabulary or preaching of self-interested, self-created authorities. Their opinions concerning what a member of the public writes should be expressed in a follow-up letter, not given the weight of an editorial corrective.

Get the picture?

Frances Genovese